In 1974, Robert W. Wells visited the Oceania. In Australia, the Milwaukeean reporter discovered, "Beer, not tea, is the Australian national drink. Unlike the British, the Australians like their beer cold and it really does taste pretty much like the stuff Americans used to."

Australia became a nation in 1901 after 6 British colonies (or states) united. The birth of Australia was also known as "federation" because the Constitution created a "federal" system of government. "Laws vary considerably among the 6 states and 2 territories and the states have a greater degree of autonomy than in the United States," Robert observed. Australia was 73 years old in 1974. "I've gone to Australia expecting it to be a trip back in time to the simpler days of the 1940s and '50s and so it was in a number of fundamental ways," Robert remarked. "Like Americans, Australians complain about inflation – with even more reason – and will tell you that things aren't what they used to be. They're worried about crime, the restless young, the breakdown of old ways. Before leaving Milwaukee, I'd had several goals. I wanted to see kangaroos, emus and kookaburras in the wilds, and I wanted to hear an Australian say 'fair dinkum.'"

"Before I left Milwaukee, I studied an Australian-American dictionary to help understand the natives, who have made slang into an art," Robert recounted. "The Stri'ans, as they call themselves, speak a variety of English all their own...Numerous recent immigrants whose arrival has helped Australia double its population in the last 20 years (1954-74). New arrivals who speak American resist the Australian version of English at first. I talked with a Turk, for example, who learned English at an American base in his home country but now speaks flawless Australian. He described how he'd lost the argument about how to pronounce the 8th letter of the alphabet...For newcomers who think they know English, it's not only the slang but the accent that makes communication difficult. TV announcers and the better educated Australians have only a trace of this. They might be mistaken for an American who has spent several years in England or a Briton who's watched too many Hollywood movies. But the man on the street or in the pub speaks strictly Australian. Vowels are melded or dropped. The letter 'r' is either omitted or softened into something like an 'h'. The custom is to speak rapidly and softly – Americans, it is universally agreed here, talk too loud – and this doesn’t help. If the acoustics are good and there are few distractions, it's possible for an American and an Australian to hold a reasonably intelligible conversation."

"On the average," Robert had found out, "each of Australia's (then) 13 million residents drinks 28 gallons of beer annually, compared to 20.2 gallons per capita for Americans. Their thirst is even more impressive when you remember that the unit of measurement in Australia is the imperial gallon. That is roughly one-fifth larger than the American gallon, so the actual score is 33.6 gallons to 20.2 gallons. The pub is the typical drinking spot where most of the beer drinking is done in this diverse land. Milwaukee has nothing resembling this institution.

"The pub is almost exclusively male except for the barmaid. The segregation is by custom rather than law. The pub, I gathered, is a place to talk, to drink beer, to talk, to study the racing form and to talk. It is also a haven for harassed masculinity, free from the pressures of family life. In Australia it is understood that the proper place for a woman (at the time) is in the saloon. Some saloon bars, located adjoining the pub and served from the same foaming taps. The plate lunch served by pubs, generally from noon to 2:00p.m., is also available in the saloon and is a bargain." In 1974, the U.S. dollar was worth roughly 66 cents in exchange for the Australian dollar. However Robert pointed out, "For about $1 Australian – that is, $1.50 American – it is possible to get an excellent plate lunch at many pubs and saloon bars. It does not seem to be possible to get any kind of potatoes except chips (fries) and, each pub is in a hotel which, by law, must also offer food and lodging.

"With 3 million people (in 1974), Sydney is Australia's largest city. The downtown's tall buildings and bustle seemed American. The residential neighborhoods, with row of small flats and houses, seemed British. The climate, warm enough for orange trees and palms, was like New Orleans. The section of the city called Woollahra – a less touristy version of New Orleans' French Quarter, with iron lacework on the balconies – to Kings Cross, an area that Sydney residents but few Londoners compare to Piccadilly Circus."

Robert also learnt, "There was a time, a few years back, when New South Wales pubs were required to close shortly after the end of the working day. The law was not entirely heartless. If a man had purchased a beer, he was permitted to drink it after the official closing hour. But he couldn't buy more. The result was predictable. As soon as work was finished, everyone rushed to the pub and ordered enough brew to last him through the drought. A thirsty man is likely to miscalculate his capacity. Some had a dozen or more beers lined up on the counter by 5:30p.m. Later in the evening, when the last early order had been drained, cars full of dedicated beer drinkers roared off home. Some got there and some didn't. The casualty rate was high enough that the politicians finally relented and lengthened the hours when pubs could serve, removing the pressure to buy out the house."

In conclusion, "A stranger is not really a good judge but my impression is that Australia (in 1974) still retains at least 2 things that most of the world has lost. People in Australia still, for the most part, trust each other and in a country where the frontier still exists, the future is regarded with hopeful confidence. Not long ago, an official of the National Tourist Commission told me, an advertising slogan was suggested to encourage foreign visitors: 'Australia – See It Before It Grows Up!"

Australia turned 100 years old in 2001.      

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